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What Is an HVAC System?

What Is an HVAC System?

In the simplest terms, your HVAC system regulates your home’s temperatures and airflow, ensuring that you have a comfortable living space all year round. Accomplishing this requires several different components that all use the same infrastructure in your home.

Learn more about what goes into your HVAC system from the professionals at Ranck Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning.

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What Can Happen When Frozen Pipes Thaw?

burst pipe

What Happens When Pipes Freeze?

Pipes will likely freeze when the temperature drops to 32°F or below and become even more likely to freeze when the temperature gets to 20°F or below. When pipes freeze, there is a chance that your pipes could potentially burst as a result of cracks caused by the freezing. When your pipes have been exposed to freezing temperatures for multiple hours, it increases the chance that your pipes could burst. Burst pipes are a serious problem and can lead to even more damage in your home including water damage that can cause even more issues such as mold, high utility bills and fluctuating water pressure. Even a single frozen pipe that bursts can cause thousands of dollars in damage.

What Happens When Frozen Pipes Thaw?

When the water freezes, it expands and can split or break the pipes. This can cause a major problem when the pipes thaw. When they thaw, the water at full pressure comes through and can flood your home which can cause significant further damage.

With temperatures expected above freezing, remember to do the following to minimize any possible damage from frozen pipes or other winter plumbing problems:

  • Stay home if you can and be alert for the sound of running water. If you can’t stay home, turn off your water until you return.
  • Make sure you know where to turn off the water to the whole house.  Just a couple of minutes of water coming from a broken pipe can cause thousands of dollars of damage.
  • If you have shut-off valves that can isolate the area where the frozen pipes are, turn them off as soon as possible.
  • If you suspect a pipe has burst, it is best to call in a plumber as soon as possible to mitigate any damage to your home.

Will Frozen Pipes Thaw On Their Own?

If your pipes freeze, you may consider just waiting for your pipes to thaw and unfreeze themselves. While pipes can naturally thaw over time, there are a lot of issues that arise from this risky method. Depending on the weather and climate in your area, pipes can take a long time to unfreeze themselves. Frozen pipes will not unthaw unless the outside temperature rises above freezing for multiple hours – even up to six hours in total. Additionally, the melted water can simply freeze over again and cause further damage to the pipes, resulting in costly repairs.

Pipes can also burst when they freeze or after they thaw. So while your plumbing can naturally thaw, it is a dangerous gamble. Instead of waiting for pipes to naturally unthaw, it is better to deal with frozen pipes as soon as possible by receiving a plumbing service from a reliable plumbing company like Ranck Plumbing, heating & Air Conditioning.

Methods to Prevent Your Pipes From Freezing

Fortunately, there are some proactive measures you can take to help prevent your pipes from freezing in the first place. Some of the best tips to prevent pipes from freezing include:

  • Letting Water Drip: Running some hot and cold water at a slow rate can help keep the temperature of your pipes higher to prevent freezing. The best way to do this is to let warm water drip overnight to keep the pipes warm and avoid overnight freezing.
  • Insulate Your Pipes: Another method is to install pipe insulation where your pipes are exposed and susceptible to freezing. Insulating your hot water pipes can also reduce heat loss and make your water heating more efficient! The most common form of pipe insulation is foam tubing that encases the pipes. It is generally the most inexpensive option and it is easy to install.
  • Use Heat Tape or Heat Cables: Heat tape and heat cables can be used to wrap around pipes and keep both the pipes and water warm to prevent freezing. Heat cables rely on electrical currents to assist in raising the temperature of pipes, so make sure to use products that have been tested and strictly follow all manufacturer installation instructions.
  • Seal Air Leaks: If you have leaks that let cold air into your house, it can increase the chances of your pipes freezing over. Find any leaks that could be letting cold air in and thoroughly seal them throughout your home. You can most often find these air leaks around your pipes or any electrical work. Most times, you can use caulk or plaster to quickly cover any leaks!
  • Adjust Your Thermostat: Variations in your thermostat settings can increase the risk of frozen pipes. A good rule of thumb is to set your thermostat to a consistent temperature during the day and night, particularly when the weather is especially cold.

Contact Ranck Plumbing, Heating & AC in Lancaster, PA

If you believe you have a burst pipe, we have emergency services available to send a plumber to your home as soon as possible. Call us at 717-397-2577  or contact us online to schedule an appointment!

What to Do During a Plumbing Emergency

As a homeowner, you’re going to run into some challenging situations with your plumbing — it happens to everyone. Understanding the steps and resources you need to deal with each emergency will give you peace of mind knowing you have it handled. Here is a guide for you to learn more about what you can do during a plumbing emergency in your home!

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Signs You Need a New Water Heater

Many homeowners don’t recognize the signs they need a new water heater until the heater completely breaks down. Knowing the warning signs you need a new water heater will greatly help you prevent an emergency plumbing situation in your home.

Warning Signs That You Need a New Hot Water Heater

Age

The average life expectancy of a hot water heater, for a family of four, is seven to 10 years. While water heaters may last longer than 10 years, it is not recommended to use water heaters past the 10-year mark. The more you use your water heater, the more wear and tear on the system, which shortens the life span. If you’re not sure of the age of your water heater, you can check the serial number that should be listed on the manufacturer’s sticker. This sticker should include the year the unit was manufactured or the first two numbers in the serial number are the same as the year the water heater was manufactured.

If your water heater is above the 10-year mark, it is a sign that your old water heater is ready to retire! You should at least begin considering getting a new hot water heater installed so you can increase the efficiency of your heating and decrease your utility bills.

Water Consistency

You might find that your water is only hot some of the time or your water no longer comes out hot. If you’re experiencing inconsistent hot water or if you’re unable to maintain a constant temperature, your hot water heater is likely nearing the end of its life. An ideal temperature for hot water is between 120 and 140 degrees, and the water should consistently be hot. If you do have inconsistent water temperatures, it is a major sign that it is time to buy a new water heater. If you have a relatively new hot water heater that has inconsistent water temperatures, it is also possible that your water heater only needs a simple repair to get back into working shape. If you are not sure, you should contact a trusted local plumber to schedule a service for your hot water heater.

Another sign is that your hot water does not last as long as it used to. If you begin to notice that your hot water turns cold much faster than it did before, that could be a clear sign that there is a problem with your water heater. It may be old and less efficient, or it could be another problem like a water leak. Either way, it is best to get professional help!

Leaks

A leaking water heater is also a major sign that something is wrong with your hot water heater. Examine the area around your hot water heater for any moisture or pools of water. It’s not uncommon for aging units to experience slow leaks that worsen over time. Through years of use and changes in water temperatures, the metal of water heaters expands and contracts. After years of use, the expansion of the metal can lead to small cracks that can worsen over time and lead to more severe water heater leaks. Large amounts of water are a sure sign your unit has expired and you need a replacement water heater as soon as possible.

Noise

If you hear banking or other loud noises coming from your water heater, this can also be a sign that your water heater may need to be replaced. As water heaters age, sediment builds up on the inside and eventually hardens. As the water heats up, you will hear rumbling or banging, which can cause cracks in the metal of your water heater. When you start to hear noise, keep an eye out for small leaks and call a technician to determine where the sound is coming from.

Color

If the color of your hot water changes and remains so for a period of time, this could mean your system is rusting from the inside. You can check this by carefully draining water directly from your unit. Rusty water generally has a red tint, so check if your water has a slight red tint or a generally rusty color. If you find that your water has a rust-colored tint, you likely have rust in your water. The metal inside of your water heater can rust over time and the rust can get into your water. In this case, the water is unsafe and you should replace your water heater tank as soon as possible.

Call Ranck Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning For Your Hot Water Needs

If you are having problems with your water heater or your water temperature in general. Ranck is the company to call in Lancaster, PA and Southcentral Pennsylvania. Our team of licensed plumbers are experts at resolving a long range of plumbing problems, and we are happy to help you with your plumbing issues! Contact Ranck online today, or call us at 717-397-2577.

Bathroom Safety Tips For Children And Seniors

bathroom-safetyBathroom-related injuries are more common than we think. We all spend a portion of our day in the bathroom, often with no harm done. But did you know that according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention nearly 235,000 people over the age of 15 visit the emergency room each year due to bathroom-related injuries? Over 80% of these accidents are due to slips and falls, and nearly 20% of accidents occur near the toilet. While we may think nothing of a regular trip to the bathroom, it can often be a hazardous environment.

Most people will wait until after an accident or illness to take action in increasing the safety of their bathrooms. But the best way to keep your loved ones safe from harm is to be proactive. We’ve gathered some helpful tips to keep both your children and seniors safe when visiting the bathroom.

Bathroom Safety Tips For Children

As a parent, it is important to keep a close eye on your young children when they are in the bathroom, particularly when your children are having bathtime. Fortunately, Ranck Plumbing, Heating & AC has a few bathroom safety tips to keep your children safe:

  • Monitor – The best way to keep children safe in the bathroom is with constant vigilance. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics children under 4 years of age should always have an adult present when near water. Just a few inches of water can become a drowning hazard to young children.
  • Temperature – Children are often more sensitive to varying temperatures in comparison to adults so it is important to take water temperature into consideration before giving a child a bath. Always wait until the bathtub is done filling before placing your child in the water as temperatures can often change unknowingly. Make sure your water heater controls are accurate. 120 degrees Fahrenheit is the Department of Energy’s recommended temperature for hot water heaters. It is the ideal temperature to get plenty of hot water while also remaining energy efficient and reducing burn-related injuries. Ranck recommends having your water heater controls checked for accuracy and installing anti-scald faucets or shower valves to prevent hot water from leaving the tap and accidentally burning someone.
  • Child Locks – Applying child locks to both toilets and medicine cabinets can be a safe and effective way to keep children out of danger. Adding a lock to your toilet will not only prevent accidental drowning but it will also keep toddlers from clogging your toilet with toys and other found objects. A lock on your medicine cabinet is also very important, as we all know children like to explore and medicine can often look like candy or mints to a small child.
  • Products – Keep all cleaning supplies along with shampoos and soaps out of children’s reach. These products can make surfaces slippery when spilled or squirted. Place all of your cleaning supplies on the top shelf of the laundry room or linen closet to reduce the risk of injury or ingestion. Many household cleaners are filled with harsh chemicals that should be safely stored where young ones are unable to reach.
  • Appliances – If you use any appliances regularly in the bathroom such as curling irons, beard trimmers or hair dryers, always check to make sure they are unplugged. Children can accidentally get a hold of them and bring them into the water not knowing of the dangers.

Bathroom Safety Tips For Seniors

The bathroom can be an easy place for anybody to slip and fall, but it is an increased danger for senior citizens. The floors can be slick, or it can be easy to fall while in the shower or tub. Here are bathroom safety tips for seniors to prevent dangerous slips:

  • Non-Slip – As we mentioned earlier slips and falls account for 80% of bathroom-related injuries, so it is important to take every precaution when it comes to floors and surfaces. Install non-slip strips or mats in your bath or shower, as well as non-slip flooring to prevent accidents. Any flooring that can provide traction will help to reduce the risk of slips and falls.
  • Grab Bars – Getting in and out of the shower can be a dangerous activity for many seniors. Ranck recommends having grab bars strategically placed within your shower or tub to increase safety. Make sure they can support the full weight of an adult by having them anchored to wall studs.
  • Faucets & Hand-Held Showerheads – Many senior citizens deal with symptoms of arthritis that can cause pain when using their hands. This can make small tasks like turning the faucet on and off difficult. Replace your faucet with a model that is easier for seniors to grip and turn or install a touchless faucet. A hand-held showerhead can also increase bathroom safety making it easier for seniors to clean themselves, especially when used in combination with a shower chair or bench.
  • Raised Toilets – The average toilet is around 14 inches tall. Many senior citizens have trouble getting up and down from lower toilet seats, which can lead to an accident or increased pain over time. Replacing your toilet with an ADA-approved raised-height model (16” – 16.5”) or installing a raised-height seat can help to reduce the risk of accidental injury and allow seniors to maintain this important personal independence.
  • Walk-in Tubs & Seating – Taking a shower becomes a tricky task as we age. This is where the risk for slips and falls increases greatly. Consider installing an easy access walk-in tub, bench or chair to make taking a shower an easier task for the elderly. Many walk-in tubs feature seal-tight doors to help prevent the buildup of water on the bathroom floor.

Call Ranck Plumbing, Heating & AC For Your Bathroom Needs

Here at Ranck Plumbing, Heating & AC we offer many services and solutions to make your bathroom a safer place for you and your loved ones. If you’re looking to make your bathroom a safer place or need other plumbing services, contact us today or call us at 717-397-2577!

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